On this page, we give seven reasons why superfast broadband is becoming increasingly essential for consumers and businesses. Below is a video of team building events company Creative Team Events based in rural Cambridgeshire, which is now benefitting from high-speed fibre broadband. Co-owner Mark Hunter says that superfast broadband has helped boost income for the company by about 30%. Other videos are shown further down the page.
1. Superfast broadband is needed to support an increasing number of devices in the home
Existing broadband is struggling to support the increasing number of Internet-capable devices in the home, which include:
- mobile phones
- iPads and tablets
- e-readers (such as Kindle)
- desktop PCs
- games consoles
- Apple TV and media players
- Sky+ boxes.
In its 2012 Communications Market Report, Ofcom identified strong growth in the adoption of Internet-enabled devices, with each household in the UK now having on average three different types of Internet-enabled device. Over 4 in 10 smartphone users say their phone is more important for accessing the Internet than any other device, and 74% of tablet owners claiming to go online with their tablet every day, or most days.
All these devices will be competing for the same limited bandwidth, and basic broadband services with slow speeds will increasingly become a major bottleneck. With growing families, where there is a significant number of people in a household, basic broadband is no longer enough!
2. Without superfast broadband, consumers miss out on some services
A large (and rapidly increasing) number of bandwidth-intensive services use broadband as a delivery mechanism, including:
- streamed video services, such as YouTube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Lovefilm, Netflix, Sky Go and BT Vision
- TV and video download services, such as Sky Anytime Plus and Apple iTunes
- fast downloading of HD video content (rather than standard definition content)
- streamed music services, such as Spotify
- voice and video telephony services, such as Skype and Apple FaceTime
- online backup services, such as Carbonite, Livedrive and Apple iCloud.
BBC iPlayer requires at least 3Mbps to stream HD content, and Netflix can demand 6Mbps or more to stream high-quality video. Online backups of important content, such as family photographs, can be unbearably slow with conventional broadband. Without superfast broadband, consumers have an increasingly reduced set of online services to choose from.
3. Superfast broadband is now almost the same price as basic broadband
The prices of superfast broadband services are already falling significantly, and there’s already a small difference between the price of superfast broadband and basic broadband services. In a recent Ofcom report, Ofcom found that the difference between the monthly rental fees for ISPs’ lowest-cost ‘superfast’ services and their lowest-cost ‘current generation’ services is often relatively small, with the price differential ranging from 5 to 10 pounds a month for most ISPs that offer both types of service.
4. Superfast broadband could increase house prices
A survey carried out by ispreview.co.uk found that 68.8% of respondents would be put off from buying a “beautiful new house” if it lacked fast broadband. 73.9% considered that broadband was “critically important” to their home life.
5. Conventional broadband services can be unreliable
As described in our What is fibre broadband page, ADSL broadband is carried along copper cables all the way from the BT exchange to homes and business premises. Inevitably, the broadband signal suffers attenuation as it travels along the copper cable from the exchange to broadband modems, reducing the speeds that can be delivered and making the broadband signal susceptible to interference.
In contrast, high-speed fibre broadband utilises fibre-optic cables, which are immune to interference and do not suffer the signal attenuation experienced by copper lines. As a result, superfast broadband services deliver significantly higher speeds and are more reliable. For the absolute ultimate in reliability, customers can choose Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), which provides an end-to-end fibre-optic connection.
6. Superfast broadband connectivity is essential for many businesses
Superfast broadband is increasingly becoming essential to businesses, whatever the size of the business.
In businesses with a significant number of employees, superfast broadband ensures that employees no longer have to compete for access to slow and limited conventional broadband services, increasing efficiency. Widespread deployment of superfast broadband services also allows businesses to provide flexible working for employees so that they can work from home and access company systems remotely, saving costs and reducing carbon footprints.
Superfast broadband provides efficiency improvements and cost savings, through improved online sales and marketing, improved online ordering and invoicing, enhanced video conferencing and VoIP services, and improved access to cloud-based services.
7. Superfast broadband improves work-life balance and enables home working
Homeworking potentially allows many people to achieve a better work-life balance, particularly parents with young children. However, conventional broadband services may not permit reliable access to business systems or allow employees to communicate effectively with colleagues or customers through video conferencing, for example.
Superfast broadband is changing businesses and peoples' lives
Team building company Creative Team Events is embracing the creative possibilities from superfast broadband to reach out to a new global audience. It is developing an extensive portfolio of high-definition content to showcase its events and introduce its event facilitators. The company estimates that superfast broadband has helped boost sales by about 30% and has brought it new customers from across the globe, with recent team building events held in Beijing and the USA. Here is another video:
The village of Spaldwick in Cambridgeshire demonstrates the impact of superfast broadband on a small village community, and many case studies of individuals and businesses in the community can be found on the Feedback From Villagers page on the Spaldwick website. Within the first month of superfast broadband going live, take-up reached 40%, and within six months about two thirds of households had subscribed to high-speed fibre broadband.
Don't forget to read our Increase Broadband Speed Guide to get the fastest speed possible from your line. Our WiFi Optimisation Guide shows how you can avoid your WiFi connection becoming the bottleneck of your system.